Reader Interview of Akanksha (The Newbie) @ BYOB Party in August 2019

We spoke to Akanksha about her love for books.

Tell us about your book journey.

I started reading books when I was very young. It was my go-to thing.  Even as a child, I would pick up whatever book I found interesting that was lying around the house. My parents also encouraged me as they knew about my interest in books.  I practically grew up in libraries.

English or vernacular?

I primarily read English- very little Gujarati though I was intrigued by the poetry of the land, particularly the poetry from the Bhakti era. I come from a remote area and got to see many performances by Dayro. They enacted a story as plays and musicals. Some of my favorite poets include the Gujarati Vaishnavite fifteenth-century poet Narsinh Mehta and twentieth-century social reformer poet Jhaverchand Meghani.

Fiction or poetry?

Oh, I read a combination of both.  Though I don’t read much English poetry, lately, I’ve started reading David Whyte’s poetry. I connect with his style– his poems are conversational, emotional,  intimate and personal.

Do books help you professionally?

Since I work on documentation, reading helps.

Any favorite author?

Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I even started an online reading group featuring her book Women Who Run With the Wolves. We deal with the book sequentially. First we pick a chapter and a story and then discuss. You must watch this YouTube video with the power-packed ladies Toni Morrison, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Maya Angelou and Jessye Norman chatting about the making of

Is it books that led you to feminism?

I don’t think so. Many things could lead you to feminism – injustice, abandonment, a sense of belonging or not….

Which writer would you recommend for readers who would like to understand more about feminism?

Toni Morrison.

Which book format do you like the most?

All of them- I’ve been reading print books the longest time but I also like the emotional intimacy of the audiobook. Right now I’m listening to the works of Robert Augustus Masters. Soothing stuff!

Thanks Akanksha! It was great talking to you. The books and videos you recommended were fantastic.

Short Book Review: The Liberation of Sita by Volga

SBR: The Liberation of Sita, translated from Telugu, is a revision of Ramayana through the stories of marginal female characters of the original like Ahalya, Renuka, Shurpanakha, and Urmila. This is unlike the stories of the neglected characters written by writers like Maithili Sharan Gupt which don’t challenge the main narrative, just highlight the ignored one. This book is a subversive, feminist revision of the epic. It’s not the misery of these women that is the point here. It’s their breaking the bonds of patriarchy. The liberation here is not something bestowed on Sita by a man. Her liberation here is from the patriarchy itself.

To read or not to read: Yes, please do.

Short Book Review: Seeing Like a Feminist by Nivedita Menon

Seeing Like a Feminist by Nivedita MenonSBR: Seeing Like a Feminist is a perfect introduction to Feminism – especially in the Indian context. Clear, crisp, readable and thought-provoking, it does an excellent job of pointing out the complexities and nuances of the Feminist thought.
To read or not to read: Yes. Even if you are “not a feminist”, please read this and make sure that you are so for the right reasons, and not just because your very definition of feminism is wrong.

Short Book Review: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

WeShouldAllBeFeministsSBR: We should all be feminists is a short book based on a TED talk by the author. It is simply written and effectively tackles all the common objections to feminism. The Nigerian experience of the author will definitely ring a bell for the Indian readers. But western world is no paragon of feminism either and Adichie doesn’t spare them.
If you have said or been told stuff like
  • Why specifically feminism and gender problem? Why not talk about all human rights issues?
  • But our culture…
  • Feminism is no longer needed. I don’t think about gender…

then this book is something you must read.

To read or not to read: Yes. And just because it has “feminists” in title, it doesn’t mean it is to be read by women only. Men also must read it.